University of Oxford

File(s) not publicly available

E07891: The Itinerarium Malmesburiense, a guide to saints' graves around and within Rome, lists three gates, including the porta Asinaria (now called saint John's gate), and the martyrs buried outside the porta Latina on the via Latina, south-east of the city. Written in Latin in Rome, 642/683.

online resource
posted on 2020-05-12, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Octaua porta sancti Iohannis, quae apud antiquos Assenarica dicitur.

Nona porta Metrosi dicitur, et coram istis ambabus via Latina iacet.

Decima porta et uia Latina dicitur. Iuxta eam quiescunt in una aecclesia martires Gordianus et Epimachus, Sulpitius Seruilianus Quintus Quartus Sophia Triphenus. Et ibi prope in alio loco Tertullinus, et non longe aecclesia beatae Eugeniae, in qua iacet et Claudia mater eius et Stephanus papa cum clero suo, numero decem et nouem, et Nemesius diaconus.

'The eighth gate, of saint John, which in Antiquity was called the Asinaria.

The ninth gate is called, Metrobia, and near both of these lies the via Latina.

The tenth gate and road is called the Latina. By this, there rest in one church the martyrs Gordianus and Epimachus, Sulpicius, Servilianus, Quintus, Quartus, Sophia, Tryphenus; and near there in another place Tertullinus; and not far off the church of saint Eugenia, in which she lies and her mother Claudia, and Pope Stephanus with his clergy to the number of nineteen, and the deacon Nemesius.'

Text and translation: Mynors, Thomson, and Winterbottom 1998, 618-619, modified

[*Gordianus, martyr of Rome under Julian the Apostate, buried on the via Latina, S00579; *Epimachus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, S00295; *Sulpicius and Servilianus, companion martyrs of Nereus and Achilleus, S00403; *Quartus and Quintus, martyrs of Rome, buried on the Via Latina, S00581; *Sophia, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, S02687; *Trophimus (here 'Triphenus'), martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina, S00583; *Tertullinus, companion martyr of *Stephanus, bishop and martyr of Rome, S00205; *Eugenia, virgin and martyr of Rome, with her mother Claudia, S00401; *Stephanus, bishop and martyr of Rome, with his companion martyr, Nemesius, S00205]


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Gordianus, martyr of Rome under Julian the Apostate : S00579 Epimachus, martyr of Rome, buried on the via Latina : S00295 Nereus and Achilleus, eunuchs and martyrs of Rome, and companions : S00403 Quartus and Quintus, martyrs of Rome, buried on th

Saint Name in Source

Gordianus Epimachus Sulpitius, Servilianus Quintus, Quartus Sophia Tryphenus Stephanus, Tertullinus, Nemesius Eugenia, Claudia

Type of Evidence

Literary - Pilgrim accounts and itineraries


  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Rome and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Rome Rome Rome Roma Ῥώμη Rhōmē

Major author/Major anonymous work

Lists of Shrines in Rome

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Places Named after Saint

  • Gates, bridges and roads

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The graves of the martyrs of Rome are quite exceptional in two respects: for the overwhelming number of saints whose names are recorded; and for the level of detail we have on where their bodies were venerated - in the many Martyrdoms surviving from Rome (incomparably more than from any other city), in uniquely rich epigraphic evidence, and in a narrative history, the Liber Pontificalis, that records in loving detail papal improvements to the saintly graves and churches of the city. From the century between circa 590 and 690, we even have four long lists of venerated graves, which were compiled entirely independently of each other: one (the Monza papyrus, E06788) is a catalogue of holy oil collected at these graves, but the other three, the Notitia Ecclesiarum (E07900), the De Locis Sanctis (E07901) and the Itinerarium Malmesburiense (E07883), are 'itineraries' - in other words texts that introduce their readers to the graves by taking them on a journey through the burial churches and cemeteries that ringed the city. They are often described as pilgrim-guides, which was certainly one of their functions, though they could also serve to introduced the saints of Rome to distant readers. William of Malmesbury, a monk of Malmesbury abbey in Wiltshire (England), included one of these itineraries in his massive work of history, the Gesta Regum Anglorum ('Deeds of the English Kings'), which he completed in 1125: hence the modern title given to this itinerary, the Itinerarium Malmesburiense (the 'Malmesbury Itinerary'). William introduces the text as an excursus on the gates and saints of Rome, as if it were his own composition: '... that it [Rome] may lack none of its due honour, I will append the number of the gates and its long list of the remains of saints'. But in reality he is quoting a much earlier text, that he had found somewhere in an English library, dating from before the massive translation of saintly bodies into the city in the late eighth and ninth centuries; indeed, as we will see below, the text can be dated with confidence to the mid or later seventh century. There is of course a possibility that William edited what he had found; but there are no obvious anachronisms in what he recorded, and when he wrote, in introducing the itinerary, that he 'will use the casual words of everyday speech', he may well be excusing the verbatim transcription of a text so simple that it rather offended his educated sensibilities. Like the other two itineraries, the Itinerarium Malmesburiense, takes one round the suburban cemeteries of Rome, major road by major road, listing the churches and principal graves that lay along them, starting with the via Cornelia and the church and grave of Peter, then proceeding clockwise round the city to the via Aurelia, and closing with a short list of those saints whose bodies already rested within the walls. Uniquely, our itinerary names not only the roads, but also the relevant gates in the Aurelianic walls, revealing that these were increasingly being called after the saints whose shrines lay near them. Unlike the Notitia Ecclesiarum, which directly addresses the reader in the second person singular ('Then you go ...' etc.), the Itinerarium (in common with the De Locis), uses the impersonal 'By this road is ...' etc. The Itinerarium can be dated with confidence to the years between 642 and 683, from information given in its list of intramural saintly burials (E07897). There we learn that the bodies of Primus and Felicianus were already in the church of Santo Stefano Rotondo, the result of a translation from a cemetery on the via Nomentana effected by Pope Theodore I (642-649; E01629). On the other hand, the translation of the bodies of Simplicianus, Faustinus and Beatrix from the via Nomentana to the church of Santa Bibiana, carried out by Pope Leo II (682-683; E01678), is not mentioned, and, since our author seems to have done a very thorough job of recording intramural burials, this must mean that it had not yet occurred.


Because the text of the Malmesburiense is organised according to the gates of the city (as well as the roads out of Rome), we learn here that the porta Asinaria had become known as the porta sancti Iohannis, due to its proximity to the church of San Giovanni in Laterano. Although the location of the gate shifted in the sixteenth century, it has retained this name, porta San Giovanni, up to the present. Though several of these martyrs are now obscure figures, all of them (except Claudia, the mother of Eugenia) are also recorded as buried on the via Latina in at least one of the other itineraries.


Edition: Mynors, R.A.B., Thomson, R.M., and Winterbottom, M. (ed. and trans.), William of Malmesbury. Gesta Regum Anglorum (Oxford Medieval Texts; Oxford 1998), vol. 1, 614-621. Glorie, F. (ed.), Itinerarium Malmesburiense, in Itineraria et alia geographica aetatis patrum, saec. VI - VIII (Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 175; Turnhout: Brepols, 1965), 325-328. [Reproduces Valentini and Zucchetti's text.] Valentini, R. and Zucchetti, G. (ed.), Codice topografico della città di Roma (Istituto storico italiano - Fonti per la storia d'Italia; Roma 1942), vol. 2, 141-153. (Partial) Translation: Lapidge, M., The Roman Martyrs. Introduction, Translations, and Commentary (Oxford Early Christian Studies; Oxford: Oxford University Press 2018), 664-666. [Translates most of the text, but omits parts less relevant to the martyrdom accounts that he includes in his collection.]

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



    Ref. manager